3, 60, 24, 17, 624, I don't remember. Is there an answer to "How many men have you slept with?" that ever actually feels like the right number? And how do you count in the first place?
HOW TO COUNT
First off, how do you define sex?
Well, if you're straight, probably by penetrative intercourse. If you're bi, then you are more likely to include any oral/manual encounter. If you're into BDSM, you might count the partners you've "played" with. Frankly, I think sex is 2 hot bodies going at it passionately (in whatever form you choose), so I'd say the rule of thumb for Total Number of Erotic Encounters should be all inclusive. (For example, sexually active lesbians who have never had sex with men are not virgins. Their number is not zero.) And there's the problem. Once you start counting your lovers, you may come up with a number that makes you feel...well...slutty or under-experienced. You may start "making expectations" like these: I don't remember his name; It was only the one time; I only count men I loved; It was just oral; It was before I became celibate.
WHAT DO THE NUMBERS MEAN
In numerology, I love my number: nine. Like my star sign (Virgo), I think it says a lot about me, but my number of sexual partners, depending on the company, makes me feel somewhere between slutty (I've never told my boyfriend how many, and I've never asked him) and chaste (I adore my outspoken friends). I couldn't tell you my number off hand anymore, and I'm sure you, dear reader would find it somewhere between slutty and chaste, too. It's popular question (remember that scene behind the cash register in Clerks where Dante freaks out about his ex's number of partners...including oral-only sex?), but does it really matter? A number has no bearing on a person's ability to have any kind of relationship they desire. It holds no moral weight. It only says nothing about your values.
I say we stop counting. When we stop counting, we give ourselves permission to explore our desires free from social stigma, love as we please and discover sex as an organic erotic force to be enjoyed as we enjoy the other earthly pleasures. And really, who cares? (And if he cares, is he worth it?)
Frankly, unless I'm feeling like channeling Sesame Street's The Count, I couldn't tell you my number off hand.